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Tiffany Korta

Granny says two things...

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Pushkin’s Restaurant, West End, Freedom City

Friday 3rd October 2015 5:30 pm


The last dregs of Summer had began to peter out and the sky was overcast over Freedom City, whilst most of the Restaurants had chair set up outside few bothered to sit outside. A few stubborn souls were however “enjoying” the weather, being use to much worse this time of year.


“I do not know why I miss this food at all, it’s nothing like the sweet food or Ayrag of home.” Klara spoke between mouthfuls of Shchi


“Maybe because you love all food even my feeble attempt at cooking and I’m no Mary Berry.” Tracy still had a strong Lancaster accent even after all these years


At first glance it looked like a, admittedly tall, daughter was taking her mother out for a meal. Tracy looked about twice Klara’s age, and was in fact even older than that. But if you watched closer you could see that there was something else there, from the little looks they gave each other to way they would softly touch each other hands.


You are beautiful tonight my darling and you grow even more so with every passing year.”


“You a lying old bugger you know that Klara, but I’ll take the compliment as it was intended. Now the kid are left we need to have that talk you know, unlike you I’m not going to live forever.”


“You know there are ways around that, people and places that grant eternal beauty and life.”


“Seems to me that immortality more of a burden than a blessing, look at that bitter old man you use to work with in the People’s Heroes. I ain’t planning to end up like that, rather go now.”


It was an old conversation that Klara wasn’t keen on having right now, she just wanted a nice quiet night out with her wife, so she subtly changed the subject.


“I can’t tell if it’s from living among the Russians or the English's but when someone mention him I can’t help but assume the worst is about to happen...”

Edited by Tiffany Korta

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"Oh, marvelous, she is there with aged wife!" said Frost from the rooftop across the street, peering at Klara and Tracy through the restaurant window with the help of Talya's borrowed binoculars, both he and Bombshell in the shelter of an high ornamental railing on the nearby rooftop. With his infrared vision, he could see their particular heat patterns easily even in the relative warmth of the establishment. "What am I supposed to say now?" he asked Bombshell, looking thoroughly disgruntled that their fun bit of afternoon surveillance had gone amiss. "You betrayed everything you fought for and left us holding the bag, and oh hello there Mrs. Warrior Woman, how are things with family?" he asked, annoyance in his voice. 

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Bombshell was laying on her stomach, her chin pillowed on her folded arms as they conducted surveillance. Really, Talya was there for the vodka and was likely no longer sober enough that she really OUGHT to be swinging around the city on jump lines. Should, however, was not a word Talya had ever done well with and there was no one there to tell her not to. Not that it had ever done much good when there was. Her blue eyes were heavy lidded, and she made a soft, "Hmm?" noise at Comrade Frost's question that showed she was clearly not as invested in the endeavor as he was. She shifted, rolling to her side to eye Dimitri and make a rude noise.

"That," she said with the over precise enunciation of one focusing on her words, "is easy. We'll divide and conquer. I'll go talk to the wife while you go do your Russian bellowing and punching thing with Klara. Just tell her you want to clear the air, or apologize. Just like that time in Olsztyn. But without the murder, clearly."

Talya paused for a second and then clarified, because she wasn't that drunk. "But make it more believable, of course." Because no one would think Dimitri had come to repent a few decades of ideology. 

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"No murders," agreed Frost sociably. "Not with so many witnesses!" He laughed at the old joke. "Now go be sociable," he went on with a wink. Taking out the binoculars again, he watched as Talya carefully made her way towards the restaurant, ready to go into action himself as soon as the coast was clear. Even a little tipsy himself, he could fly down there and practically be in the front door in the space of just a moment or two. Ah, such a day this has been. How did I find myself on a rooftop spying on my friend-turned-enemy, in any event? He thought back, then nodded his head in satisfaction. Through the power of true friendship. Hmm. Perhaps next time I should bring Ghost Girl. She owes me a favor - and she would make an excellent snoop. 

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Even though it had been quite some time Klara’s senses were still as sharp as ever and she looked around aware that something was happening.

“Did you see that? I should go take a look.”

She began to get out of her chair only to be stopped by a gentle hand squeeze

“Don’t you dare we’re here on holiday remember? This is Freedom City there’s more than enough heroes to deal with any problem. Now why don’t you tell me why we’re here?”

“Well there was that museum event that I was invited to and I thought we could do with a holiday...”

“You’re a terrible liar, you want to butter me up to ask something.”

Klara looked a little guilty before recovering and applying the charm with a broad smile

“I’ve been talking to Pennington. She’s back in charge of the Ministry you know? They want me to join a team, maybe Vanguard. There was even talk of getting me on the League, the Russians have been boasting again about having one of their own and the Government are pushing to get someone in the group.”

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Talya gave Frost a negligent shrug as she rolled to her feet and then, without so much as a by-your-leave, stepped off of the rooftop - vanishing to most perceptions as she did so. It was a few moments before Talya came strolling up from another direction, her saunter jaunty as her heels clicked on the pavement but little gave away her intoxication except for, perhaps, the more exaggerated swing of her hips as she sashayed up to the couple. 

"Klara, twice in the same week - what are the odds," Talya offered her most charming greeting, flashing a bright smile as she turned to offer her hand to Klara's wife, "We were just talking about catching up about what all was going on in England - it's been ever so long since I've been back. Mind, that's been the preference of about half of MI:6, but - regardless - one does eventually miss the interminable rain and smog of London. How have you been? I was promised stories of grandchildren, I think. Oh, where are my manners. Natalya Browning - Klara and I worked together ages and ages ago but I fear I was in the field when she switched allegiances. And then, alas, persona non grata for the next few decades."

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“Aye I heard about you. Even when I joined you were a legend among the agents and you don’t do nothing purely by chance.” Tracy eyed Bombshell suspiciously

Klara wasn’t quite so reluctant giving Tayla a warm friendly hug

“Don’t be such a grump Tracy she is an old friend. You must join us for a while and try the lovely Russian tea’s some of the best you’ll find.” she gently guided the both of them towards the table “This is Tracy Matthew’s my lovely wife.” Tracy gave a little nod obviously somewhat reluctantly accepting this intrusion

“Sit, sit we have much to catch up one.”

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Talya's smile was pure innocence at Tracy's statement, although there was a glint of amusement in her blue eyes at the challenge of being called on her antics. Letting her gaze drop demurely, Talya touched her fingertips to her breastbone, "Ah, would that I was half as skilled as legend purports. But, if one can't be underestimated, then overestimated is almost as good." The fencing was almost good natured, after enough decades ex-spies get more than a little bored without the cloak and dagger of their career. Idle hands had never been good for Talya. They led to things like agreeing to help Frost in drunken shenanigans. There was, however, no malevolence here as Talya turned to give Klara a hug.

She offered Tracy her hand, moving to take a seat next to her as if they were dear old friends catching up, "So, you HAVE to tell me what's been going on since I went AWOL. Tell me, who's taken over the reins... Oh, I should see about fetching something to drink."

Talya turned slightly in her chair then as if she were moving to get up as her gaze traveled up (and up) to Klara. The deliberate manipulation would likely be obvious to Tracy - perhaps also to Klara - as she left an opening for Klara to offer to fetch a server. 

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If Klara was suspicious she gave no indication, in fact her broad smile suggested she was rather glad to see Talya again. The apparently more aware Tracy was eyeing her suspiciously, though for now she said nothing.

"Of cause I shall go get the ever helpfulI Inga whilst you two catch up on all the gossip and have a chit chat."

Without waiting for a reply she made her way back towards the inside of the restaurant.

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"Warrior Woman." Dimitri's red eyes appeared in the corridor behind Klara as she was about to step into the kitchen to grab their waitress. There, he thought with satisfaction, can hardly tell how fast I had to fly to get into this place! He looked her up and down, an easy enough task given just how massive the woman was compared to him. "Do not worry about serving staff. Have paid them well already." And so greedy! I had to promise an introduction to Gabriel to half of them. "Your wife will have her meal." He pointed to the nearby banquet room, left temporarily open by yet another exorbitant bribe to the restaurant staff. "Shall we talk?" he asked challengingly, practically daring her to refuse. 

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Talya gave Tracy a friendly smile and offered a sidelong, "She's going to be fine. I wouldn't set Klara up for any danger, you know. Well, not without her ASKING me to set up the danger ahead of time. Regardless, I'm not going to cause your spouse trouble. So, how has married life been? Are you retired? I hope not. It gets dreadfully boring, I know, after long enough without keeping busy."

She reached for her water glass then, lifting it in a small toast, "How's London; still smelly and wet?" Talya asked with all the disdain one might expect a disavowed agent. "I keep thinking I'll visit but I don't think I'd be all too welcome still."

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For a moment Klara tensed when she sensed someone behind her, but relaxed when she’d heard Dimitri's voice. She ignore him for a few second whilst she filled a pot from the restaurants samovar, a little churlish to make him wait but it didn’t take much to figure out this had been set up.

“I hope you paid them well Inga is putting herself through college, she was a good waitress I was going to tip her well.”  

She finally turned around and leant against the units her arms crossed and a defiant look on her face.

“Dmitri you really didn’t have to go to all this trouble a simple call would have been fine. But here is as good as ever, shall we start the quiet accusations, most I will not deny, or do you wish to go straight to the shouting?”

---

Tracy seemed quite relaxed at the whole situation pulling out a small silver flask and raised it to joint Talya’s toast.

“Seeing as that tea might be a while, 20 year old Scotch can I interest you in a dram?” she took a small nip and offer the flask to Talya “They cleared the pea-soupers in the 50’s, which is why I hated going to London back then, it not perfect but a lot better.”

Tracy gave a little sigh.

“I may not look it but I’m over eighty, Klara’s people gave me something to slow my ageing, but despite them trying to get me to retire I keep plodding on. It’s only me, Klara and Pennington that remember about most of the heroes and villains from back then.”

She paused for second apparently making her mind up about something then added.

“I know you can be as slippery as an eel when it comes to the truth but if I ask you something important would you answer it truthfully?”

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"-I am Dimitri to my friends, woman-," hissed Frost, surprised at how hot his anger still burned after seventy years. "-What makes you think you can just set things aside now and pretend that all that has passed between us has never passed?-" The yawning gulf of history, not for the first time that very day, dangled at his feet. "-Did you never wonder what would happen when you left? When you had your precious freedom?-" He kept his finger from jabbing in the direction of Klara's wife by sheer force of will, instead shoving his hands in his pockets when he glared up at her. "-Stalin hated and feared the Peoples' Heroes anyway. You gave him proof that we were a nest of traitors to be hunted down. In your happy little British home with your wife and your cup of tea, did you ever wonder why it is only me who is left?-" 

Edited by Avenger Assembled

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"I've visited intermittently, just never officially," Talya admitted as she nudged a glass over for Tracy to fill with a nod of thanks. Adding Scotch onto the vodka would be fiiiiine. She nodded her head then in mute, slightly sympathetic understanding, "It's never easy when one half of a pair is immortal and the other is not. You look very fresh faced for an eighty year old. Is Pennington still an ass?"

It was said with fondness, giving her pejorative the affectionate tone of a long standing insider's joke. As she accepted her glass, her fingers curling around it, she inclined her head once, "If you asked me something important - and I can answer it truthfully - I shall try to do so. One doesn't get to my sort of reputation without the ability to keep secrets but barring that sort of need... ask away. I will answer what I can and we'll see if I can manage an entirely truthful answer."

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"I was looked after by British Intelligence, how could I not know!” Klara screamed back at him in Russian, more angry at herself than anyone else.

 

“Every year I light a candle for them at church and say a prayer for their souls. I know every detail of their records there friends and family.” her voice now was a quiet whisper and she squeezed the counter leaving hand marks behind “I couldn’t stay and defend everything he was doing. I tried I really did to tell them that none of you were involved, but he wouldn’t listen, they wouldn’t listen."

---

 

Tracy pour both of them a generous shot of Scotch and top another sip.


"I don't plan to leave this Earth soon, I look forward to my telegram from the Queen. But as the years pass I look older and she stays the same, did you know she's older than this nation." She waved her hand for emphasis "You know Klara she won't let things go and she's going to look for some Danny potion so we can be together forever. So honestly is it worth it and if I refused how long would she mourn?"

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Talya went quiet at the question, her fingertips touching the rim of her half empty glass deftly. Lightly. Her gaze dropped down to lines of her fine boned fingers, as she traced errant circles on the glass. Touching the tip of her tongue to her upper lip, Talya paused and then answered the easy question first, "Forever. You mourn forever when the people you love go. Some love again. Others... " Her shoulder lifted up in a half shrug, "Others not so much. I know immortals that turn to shallow relationships after a lover passes, unable to risk that level of intimacy. Others of us never give that much away in the first place, so there's less to lose when the inevitable happens."

She answered the question, blunting aside any personal information from it but the words were still true, "As to worth it? No one can really answer that. Forever is a long, long time. If there's an immortal that hasn't longed for death at some point in their existence... well, I've never met them. You learn to enjoy the day to day, generally, without thinking too hard about how many tomorrows are still standing in front of you. Did I answer your question?"

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"So instead you went to the nation that invented imperialism - the nation that would have incinerated your former comrades, and your own blessed nation, if the old men in London and Moscow had made just a few more mistakes in those days!" If he'd been taller, Dimitri would have been standing chest-to-chest with her. "And what was for?" he demanded of her. "You were a criminal there, too, using your power to get around the laws that sent other women to jail!" he hissed accusingly. "Do you know what happened when you were gone? When Stalin knew that you were gone and your tribe hidden away by magic, he charged Frost the lapdog, Frost the toady, with persuading them to return! He sent me to Kazakh SSR and said "Dimitri, persuade Amazons to return by any means necessary" If any other man had been in my place, then the corpses of thousands of peasants would have been stacked around your bloody utopia!" 

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Klara stood up to her full height, banging the counter as she pushed her up, causing the urn to jump from the impact. She looked down at DImitri with passion burning in her eyes.

“You know as well as me that if I had spoken out against Stalin I would have been another images removed from all the pictures never to be spoken of again. Yes the country I fled to wasn’t perfect but it became better, I made it better. Whilst you beloved Russia has gone backwards I’m not welcome because my ways are a disruptive influence, effectively banished from my own home. It is lucky I showed forethought to have four children prepared the one time I was allowed to visit, normally my people only have one child in a hundred years.” her voice was one of restrained anger her force kept under the barest of check

 

“It is good that you show restraint when set to find my find, I will give you that at leasts. For you were lucky if they're human had been attacked my people would have stopped at nothing to kill every last one of you, even those that consider humans little above pets.” her dismissive tone suggested she didn’t agree in this view in the slightest

---

Tracy was musing now as much to herself as to Talya

“But where does it stop? We have three lovely daughters and the doctors I guess you’d call them said they’d live long life of almost perfect health. And I can see that none of them is under 6ft and could be a model if the wished. But what happens when they get old? Or their children and Grandchildren?” she sipped her drink again “She does everything with such passion and would love each of them without reserve. I don’t think I can do that, could I find it in myself to love my Great-grandchildren, could you do that?”

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"You know of my reputation and very likely my file. There's nothing in this world that I love, so I am a poor person to ask that question," Even more than a little inebriated, the lie was easy on Talya's tongue and her expression remained smooth and remote from the emotions of the question at hand. She took a sip from her glass and set it back down on the table lightly as she maneuvered back towards truer things, "I never had children. I had a career instead back when that was a binary option between one or the other and never looked back. It has been a very, very long time since I was the sort of person who had family. I can tell you that if you go that route, you'll never be the same sort of person as your bride. An immortal born is always different than one who falls into it. You know mortality in a way that she doesn't. That you lose the good sense to fall over at the end of a long life never changes that. Which isn't to say its the wrong choice. It just means you'll view the experience differently."

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"You did nothing to stop what came before, or later. Stalin could have piled the bodies to the roof of the world, and your tribe would have done nothing because the boundaries of their precious sanctum had not been violated. The world could have been damned to Hell, then, and after, and your people would have done nothing but watch." Frost pointed at her, heedless of her towering strength and towering rage. "As we all were - in Stalin's name." Despite his anger, the edges of grief were beginning to crowd around his voice. "All the heroes of those days are gone, Klara. All that are left are those who learned to lie. To run. And to survive." He looked away, then back. "I should not hate you. You fled when you could, because it was easier than staying. But those of us left in the world were left to burn." 

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Klara gave a little grunt of frustration unfurling her hands from fists before taking a few steps away, when she turned back around her voice had lost a little of its fire.

"When the Great War happened we watch the caranage and I spoke out that we should do something against such horror, but the would do nothing. So when the Nazis showed I decided to do something and left my home to try and help. I was like a child in this complicated world of man, and when I realized the leader I served course be just as bad I panicked and flees to a better place. I did not realize just how fleeting you leaders were and if I had stayed things would get better, that I could maybe have made things better."

She hung her head in shame 

"Perhaps I do not deserve anytht more than you hate."

---

Talya's answer seemed to give Tracy some comfot but apparently not completely

"I can't help but feel either way I'm being selfish. Do you know that her people share everything? And I mean everything! Quite a shock for a middle-class girl from Doncaster I can tell you." She gave a little life "But Klara's not like that she would stay just with me, even out of a sense of duty."

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"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio," was Talya's bemused response to that statement, "As I said, forever is a long time. When you are looking down the barrel of eternity, it changes the way relationships function. I can't say I'm terribly surprised that her people tend towards a bit more libertine philosophy in terms of inter personal relationships. Pledging to love and keep someone forever has a very different meaning when it's measured in centuries - or longer - than in years and decades."

Talya finished her glass, setting it back down on the table with a faint sigh, "I wouldn't wind back the clock and change my life but you and I are two very different people. All things come at a cost and immortality is no exception to that rule."

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"No. No, you would have been dead, like the rest of them. Or damned, like me." He looked back at her without turning around, red eyes and pale face visible beneath his parka's raised hood, gloved hands relaxed at his side. "Of the heroes who fought the forces of fascism on the Eastern Front, only one is left, Warrior Woman. If I hate you, it is because the dead hate the living." He turned and suddenly stormed out, going past Talya with his hood completely down. "I will be in the car," he muttered to her, still in Russian, emotion thick in his voice. The door was closed, the air chilly as he stalked through the restaurant - but he vanished beneath the doorframe anyway in a puff of mist, and was soon boiling down the street. 

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Klara hit her fist hard into the counter out of frustration, leaving a rather large dent in the surface. She’d have to offer to pay for the counter, despite whatever Dimitri had often them for there privacy. Finally feeling a calmer she walked back out to where she’s left Tracy and Talya.

“It really was a pleasure to see you again Natalya it is a shame that we don’t have more time to talk.” she gave a deep sigh “I believe he’s still a good man under it all, it’s just forgot that under all the death and destruction he’s seen. Right now he need honeyed half truth and beautiful lies, which is something that I could never offer him. Right now I think he needs you.” the word could easily be considered a insult, but her tone suggested she meant it as more a compliment.

She offered a hand to help up her wife and she gave Tayla a strange look before adding.

“And if I can offer some advice once this is over get away from us and our past of death and blood. Find someone who’s vibrant and full of life who’s living each day with a joie de vie.”

 

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"Ah, I see the conversation has been resolved for the moment," Talya said calmly as the angry undead appeared and stalked off in a rush of cold wind and colder emotion. She sat her empty glass down and stood up smoothly, no hint of any level of inebriation in her smooth movements. Her smile for Klara was jaunty in the face of everyone elses's somber mood, as if the swirling depression and chaos had left her untouched. "Half truths and sweet lies are my wheelhouse, it's true. Another time, Klara, but you know its best if these things happen sooner rather than later. You and I - we really have forever to catch up. Thank you for the drink, Tracy. Do enjoy your meal."

It seemed like she might not comment on Klara's final odd comment although she turned, eventually, at the gate to the sidewalk, "Oh, Klara. You can't ever get away from your past entirely. Hide for a time, perhaps, but somethings never can be forgotten. Dimitri despairs because he knows his hands will never be clean again." She let the gate shut behind her, her easy smile never slipping from her features, "And neither will mine. I hope your afternoon is a pleasant one."

With that, Talya turned to sashay away, her heels echoing staccato with each step on the pavement.

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